Australian Volunteers Program reinstated

Australian Volunteers Program is back in Samoa with the arrival of Jennifer Rodger, an Australian Epidemiologist and Public Health specialist.
She will serve with Samoa’s Ministry of Health (MOH), Climate Change and Health Unit. Ms Rodger is the first in-country Australian Volunteer in Samoa following the closure of borders in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The press statement issued says Ms. Rodger will work closely with Victoria Ieremia-Faasili, the Principal Officer for the Climate Change and Health Unit at the Ministry of Health in providing support on climate change and health research, as well as building resilient health programs.
This important work will contribute to Samoa’s efforts in responding to the adverse effects of climate change on health, a key Government priority.
“As climate change continues to pose a threat to the health and security of Samoa and the region, we look forward to collaborating with volunteers such as Ms. Rodger in ensuring Samoa’s response to climate change and health is robust,” said Dr Glenn Atoa Fatupaito, Deputy Director General Hospital and Clinical Services, MOH.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be able to live in Samoa and learn from my colleagues at the Ministry of Health. I hope that my small contribution will benefit the Samoan people as they continue to respond to the challenges of climate change and its effects on their health,” said Rodger.
“The Australian Volunteer program is one of the hallmarks of our engagement in the region and offers many opportunities for our people to learn and grow together. We look forward to finding more opportunities for our people to collaborate, especially as we respond to the challenges we face together in the Blue Pacific,” said Her Excellency Emily Luck, the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa.
Rodger an epidemiologist and Public Health Specialist, has worked on cancer research in Sydney, Australia for 13 years, and served a previous Australian Volunteer assignment in Cambodia in 2019-2020 aiding in the Cambodian Government’s malaria elimination program.
She is also a distant learning tutor with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK), with expertise in environment, health and sustainable development.
In 2020-21, the Australian Volunteer Program (AVP) in Samoa supported eight volunteers and six partner organisations, with a focus on health security and economic recovery and stability in response to COVID-19.
As Samoa’s borders were closed during this period, Australian Volunteers worked remotely from Australia to support their respective partners in Samoa.
The AVP aims to provide not only expertise to fill gaps as identified by host nations, but also for volunteers to gain new knowledge and skills from their host organisation.
In addition to the ‘Pathway for the Development of Samoa’, the Ministry of Health’s 10-year Health Sector Plan from FY2019/20 identifies climate change and disasters as one of eight Health Sector Priorities.
A key focus area of the Health Sector plan is ‘improved risk management and response to disasters, public health emergencies and climate change.